NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: ED557873
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 340
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3037-9981-5
Female Adult Learners in Rural Community Colleges: A Case Study of Role Perception and Navigation for Student Mothers
Thompson, Tara Lynn
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Female adult learners, the fastest growing subpopulation in community colleges, face challenges navigating domestic, professional, and academic roles and take time off from school to reconcile issues with multiple role navigation; thus, their education is disjointed and staggered, creating barriers to persistence. This interpretive design instrumental case study answered the following research questions: a) How do female adult learners in community colleges perceive multiple roles and b) How do female adult learners in community colleges navigate multiple roles? Framed by Role Theory, data was collected through 19 interviews and two focus group sessions with community college female adult learners who also met the criteria of having at least one child age 13 or younger. These findings offer several insights into both perception and navigation. This study found a paradigm shift in social perception and behavior regarding women's return to college. This study also found that women closely connect their role as student to their role as mother, yet they still hold their role as mother as the most esteemed and prioritized role. Finally, this study found that female adult learners perceive that the mother role allows for delegation, but the student role does not. These perceptions inform the navigation strategies for staying in control and setting boundaries (strategic planning, sacrificing, and separating the spheres), and strategies for staying positive (support gathering, self-encouragement, and avoiding negativity). These new understandings of female adult learner perception and navigation have implications with regard to research and practice in higher education. Implications for research include further exploration of the specific sacrifices that women make when returning to college and their long term implications, studies that explore innovative ways to bridge school and home for community college students, further exploration of the success and effects of navigation strategies. Implications for practice include providing campus resources specific to female adult learner needs including but not limited to an all-female support group, a women's resource center, and a mentoring program and fostering a culture of flexibility on community college campuses to accommodate female adult learner needs. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Adult Education; Two Year Colleges; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A